Epidermal Growth Factor-Induced Stimulation of Proliferation and Gene Expression Changes in the Hypotrichous Ciliate, Stylonychia lemnae

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Epidermal growth factor (EGF) induces proliferation of epidermal and epithelial tissues in mammals. However, the effect of EGF on the single-celled eukaryotes is not well characterized, especially in the protists. Ciliates, an important group of protists, are well characterized as both pollution indicators and model organisms for research. Stylonychia lemnae, is one of the most common free-living ciliates, widely distributed in ponds, rivers and marshes. Here, we report the role of EGF on cell proliferation stimulation in S. lemnae. The growth curve of S. lemnae was established, and the stimulation effect of EGF on the proliferation of S. lemnae was investigated. Based on the results, potential EGF receptors were identified in S. lemnae according to the conserved domains and gene expression. Differential gene expression revealed that EGF-induced genes in other organisms (e.g. antioxidant) also up-regulated in S. lemnae cells at propagation stages. In addition, our results showed that EGF could up-regulate the signal transduction-related processes in the decline stage of S. lemnae cells, indicating its potential function in apoptosis inhibition. In summary, this study reports findings of the first investigation of EGF effects in hypotrich ciliates, and establishes an additional system for the study of the molecular mechanisms of EGF actions in eukaryotic cell division and proliferation.


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